In The End, Cowboys Valiant Effort Was Not Enough

DWare celebrates his fumble recovery - Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

There was no quit in the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night, but when the final gun sounded another team had earned the right to represent the NFC East in the 2013 playoffs.

There is a lot to complain about with the 2013 season and we have several months ahead of us to debate the Dallas Cowboys shortcomings. For now, I am going to take a moment and appreciate the effort that the team put into the final game of the season. Sure, we are all disappointed with the outcome, but a team who had the deck stacked against them left everything they had in them out on the field.

To get the evening started Kyle Orton, who was making his first start in two seasons, came out and gave Dallas one heck of an effort for a back up quarterback. There were some mistakes made along the way, and it was clear that he and the wide receivers were not totally in sync. Considering how few opportunities he gets to work with them, that is to be expected. The Cowboys have often stated that they considered Kyle to be the best #2 quarterback in the league and his efforts tonight added some credibility to that belief. He performed better than many expected.

DeMarco Murray continued to prove his worth. Against the Philadelphia Eagles, the Cowboys primary ball carrier ran the ball with a vengeance. He was taking the fight to the enemy on Sunday night and if he can continue asserting himself next season, Murray could stack together some good seasons. Of course, for that to happen, Murray is going to have to stay healthy.

On the other side of the ball, a battered defense that has seen 40 different players take the field this year managed to turn in their best effort in recent weeks. The Dallas pass rush was able to get to Nick Foles on several occasions. Jason Hatcher and DeVonte Holloman each got to the Philadelphia passer twice and Jarius Wynn tallied a sack as well. DeMarcus Ware also delivered his best effort over the closing portion of the season; he recorded a fumble recovery and did a heck of a job setting the edge to keep Shady McCoy from getting outside.

Perhaps the best effort of the evening came from rookie linebacker DeVonte Holloman. Although he got off to a slow start, Holloman rebounded and turned in a solid evening to lead the Cowboys in tackles. In addition to the pair of sacks mentioned above, the rookie turned in a fair Sean Lee impersonation. This certainly bodes well for the future. The kid can play some ball as he has shown several times this season.

While, at least at the time of this writing, it is not known what fate has in store for the Cowboys coaching staff, one thing is obvious. This team will play their hearts out for Jason Garrett and his coaching staff. In my opinion, this group played above their collective talent level on Sunday night. The ability doesn't quite live up to NFL level expectations but the Dallas Cowboys definitely gave a full effort. It was not enough against the Philadelphia Eagles (or against several other teams) but they gave all they had in the "NFC East Championship Game."

While there are no "moral victories" in the league, I for one, was proud of the effort that the team put forth. Where do they go from here? I don't know, but I am sure we will start to learn their intentions over the next few days. For now, I want to take a moment and simply say "Thank you for your efforts."

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